Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
PA Won't Disarm Militants by Force (UPI/Washington Times)
Islamic Militants in Canada Pose "Clear and Present Danger" to U.S. - Shaun Waterman (UPI/Washington Times)
3 UK Universities Nix Anti-Israel Boycott - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
135 Car Bombings in Iraq in April - Michael Howard and Ewen MacAskill (Guardian-UK)
Lightening Struck Twice for Terror Victims - David Regev (Ynetnews)
at a Middle Eastern Bank? - Lisa Myers (NBC News)
Terror Suspects Sent to Egypt by the Dozens, Panel Reports - David Johnston (New York Times)
Israel Air Force to Take Part in Canadian War Games - John Ward
Israel Navy Exercises with NATO Force
- Alon Ben-David (Jane's-UK)
King of Jordan to Pardon Ahmed Chalabi - Patrick Cockburn (Independent-UK)
Syria's Stability May Well be in Kurdish Hands - Ibrahim Hamidi (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Ethnic Rifts Tearing at al-Qaeda - Paul Haven and Katherine Shrader (AP/Washington Post)
Israel Top for R&D Spending as Proportion of GDP - Zeev Klein (Globes)
Israel's Exports to U.S. Up 9% in First Quarter -
Shira Horesh (Globes)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A Katyusha rocket fired from Lebanon landed in the northern Israeli town of Shlomi late Wednesday, the army said, heavily damaging a factory in an industrial zone. Israel held Lebanon responsible for the attack, the third such rocket strike in the past year. "The Lebanese government is responsible for all incidents which take place in Lebanese territory, including these attacks, which are conducted by terror organizations," the army said. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
The IDF believes the rocket was fired by Palestinian militants and not by Hizballah. (Ha'aretz)
The Palestinian Authority is close to postponing a scheduled July 17 vote for a new parliament - possibly until next spring - in the face of a strong showing by Hamas in recent local elections. "It looks like they [the elections] will be delayed," said PA parliament member Qadura Fares. Sheik Hasan Yousef, leader of Hamas in the West Bank, called any delay "unacceptable." (Washington Times)
See also Hamas Election Triumph a Vote Against Fatah - Chris McGreal
"People have taken the opportunity to vote as revenge against Fatah. Even some from Fatah have voted for us because they were depressed by their own movement. They want to send a message by electing us to show that their own leadership has failed," said newly elected Hamas town councilor Yasser Hammad of Kalkilya, whose party swept aside the once dominant Fatah and won all 15 seats. Samir Nassar, 30, who has spent nearly half of his life in Israeli jails, said: "All of my life I voted for Fatah, but this time I voted for Hamas and it won the election because there is no competition. The people who ran things before were corrupt." (Guardian-UK)
Secretary of State Rice told Larry King on CNN Wednesday: "We at this particular moment perhaps have the best chance that we've had in a long time for movement forward between the Palestinians and the Israelis toward a two-state solution that means a Palestinian state and an Israeli state living side by side. It would require what is already going on there - the process of democratization in the Palestinian territories. They've had elections. They're going to have more elections. But Palestinians need to reform their security forces and make sure that they're fighting terrorism. But of course, the Israelis are going to leave the Gaza Strip and withdraw from four settlements in the West Bank. This is an extraordinary moment."
"I have to underscore the leadership of Prime Minister Sharon here because this man, who in many ways was the father of the settlement movement, has really now said that Israel and the Palestinians are going to have to share the land. And that's a very important fundamental place from which to recognize the need for two states. And one, you just have to admire him for that kind of leadership." (State Department)
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Wednesday that Israel still needs to have "military supremacy" over its neighbors. Fischer told Die Zeit the problem remained that Israel was "never really recognized" by its neighbors. "This requires military supremacy," he added. Fischer noted that in Israel there was "a lot of mistrust" of the Europeans when it came to security issues. (DPA/Expatica-Netherlands)
Attorneys for former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, accused of raising money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, must limit their discussion of the history and political implications of the long-standing Middle East conflict during his trial, U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. ruled Tuesday. Al-Arian and three other defendants face a 53-count federal indictment charging them with support of a foreign terrorist organization, racketeering, conspiracy, and extortion.
Prosecutors allege the men used an Islamic academic think tank and a Palestinian charity Al-Arian founded as fund-raising fronts for Islamic Jihad, blamed for more than 100 deaths in attacks in Israel. Prosecutors said the background of the conflict doesn't matter. ''Nothing gives the [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] the right to threaten violence or kill,'' said lead prosecutor Walter E. Furr III. (AP/Miami Herald)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has begun to implement his promise to collect weapons from Palestinians on Israel's wanted list. In Jericho, the suspects have handed their weapons in to the PA and pledged in writing not to return to terrorism, and in Tulkarm, implementation is in an advanced phase. Israel has handed over security control of both West Bank cities to the PA. The lack of full Palestinian implementation of the weapons agreement has led Israel to refuse to withdraw from three additional West Bank cities it had been planning to transfer to the Palestinians. Israel has also asked the PA for the serial numbers of the weapons the suspects have handed in to the authority, but has yet to receive these. (Ha'aretz)
See also PA Has Not Disarmed Terrorists
The PA has not disarmed terrorist groups from Tulkarm and Jericho, despite prior claims by the PA that it had rounded up their weapons, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. PA chairman Abbas had reportedly ordered his security forces to round up the weapons, but those orders were not carried out. (Jerusalem Post)
A man carrying a fake bomb was shot and killed Friday outside the Israeli embassy in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. In July 2004, three suicide bombings in Tashkent targeted the embassies of Israel and the U.S., and the general prosecutor's office. Three people, all locals, lost their lives in the attacks and eight were injured. (Ha'aretz)
A Palestinian youth was arrested by IDF security forces on Thursday when he was caught attempting to cross through the Hawara checkpoint outside of Nablus with a handgun hidden in a sack of cucumbers, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
Moti Pravda, 58, an Israeli aeronautics executive, was shot to death in Guayaquil, Ecuador, when he resisted a car-jacking, police said Thursday. "It appears he put up resistance and was shot once in the head," said Police Col. Rafael Yepez. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
The outgoing chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, will go down in history as one of the best chiefs of staff the Israel Defense Forces has ever had. Ya'alon shouldered the heaviest prolonged burden of any of Israel's wars since the 1948 War of Independence. In this war, Israel's civilian population suffered more losses than in any previous war. The terrorist organizations are now in retreat and on the defensive. On the Palestinian side, there is now a leader who believes that terror does not serve his public. Even in Hamas, for the first time there is talk about the possibility of a political solution.
Ya'alon insisted on establishing the teleprocessing division that enabled the IDF to achieve a significant shortening of the circuit between obtaining intelligence and preventing an act of terror. It is no wonder that foreign representatives, including Americans, come to Israel to hear about innovations in the war against terror. (Ha'aretz)
Anti-Israel activity on U.S. campuses this spring has been at its highest level since the outbreak of the second intifada and has successfully pushed through three divest-from-Israel resolutions, according to Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) Executive Director Wayne Firestone. Firestone attributed the passage of the initiatives to a new strategy in which pro-Palestinian activists target peripheral universities with virtually no active Jewish presence. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In a world of jihad, terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, President Bush in his second inaugural address elaborated that the U.S. seeks progress toward freedom, not its ultimate achievement in a defined time, and that it recognizes the historical evolution that must be the foundation of any successful process. On this basis, realists and idealists should go forward together, keeping the following principles in mind:
* The process of democratization does not depend on a single decision and will not be completed in a single stroke. Elections, however desirable, are only the beginning of a long enterprise.
* Americans need to understand that successes do not end their engagement but most probably deepen it, for as we involve ourselves, we bear the responsibility even for results we did not anticipate.
* Elections are not an inevitable guarantee of a democratic outcome. Radicals like the Hizballah and Hamas seem to have learned the mechanics of democracy in order to undermine it and establish total control. (International Herald Tribune)
Mahmoud Abbas has yet to create a professional support staff he can trust to carry out his directives, and without which he can do little beyond making speeches. At the Ramallah headquarters Abbas inherited from Arafat, the wreckage has been cleared away but the administrative chaos sowed by Arafat remains. Abbas has no obvious management staff of his own and has allowed Arafat's tainted and unreliable courtiers to run his office. The disarray is a microcosm of the situation in the Palestinian territories, a weak central authority with factions angling for power.
Late last month Abbas named Rafiq Husseini, a highly regarded, British-educated public health expert, as director of his office. A member of Jerusalem's most prominent family and a medical chemist who helped establish the Palestinian health care system, Husseini has worked with the Israelis and international aid groups. The more professional newcomers that Abbas brings on and the more corrupt old-timers he retires or kicks upstairs, the more likely he will be able to create a vibrant, loyal staff capable of managing domestic issues and relations with Israel. The writer is a researcher and special assistant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (USA Today)
Every day, Israel relays to the U.S. lessons of battle and counter-terrorism, which reduce American losses in Iraq and Afghanistan, prevent attacks on U.S. soil, upgrade American weapons, and contribute to the U.S. economy. Senator Daniel Inouye has argued Israeli information regarding Soviet arms saved the U.S. billions of dollars. The contribution made by Israeli intelligence to America is greater than that provided by all NATO countries combined, he said. Israel is responsible for 600 improvements in the F16 fighter jet that are now incorporated by the company that produces them, saving the U.S. modifications worth billions of dollars and dozens of research and development years.
Israel's utilization of American arms gives U.S. military industries a competitive edge compared to European industries. Japan and South Korea, for example, preferred the "Hawkeye" spy plane and the MD-500 chopper, both purchased and upgraded by Israel, over comparable British and French aircraft.
In 2005, Israel provides America with the world's most extensive experience in homeland defense and warfare against suicide bombers and car bombs. American soldiers train in IDF facilities and Israeli-made drones fly above the "Sunni Triangle" in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, providing U.S. Marines with vital intelligence. (Ynetnews)
At this week's Summit of South American-Arab Countries held in Brasilia, Brazilian President da Silva was hard-pressed to keep his fledgling idea of a South American-Arab friendship together to reach any sort of agreement. When dealing in Middle East politics, "cooperation" extends about as far as one's willingness to condemn the U.S. and Israel. Despite the summit's focus on economic "bridge building," the final draft of the "Declaration of Brasilia" included mandatory expressions of concern over the war in Iraq, U.S. sanctions against Syria, and Israeli settlements. The only voice of moderation from the Arab end of the table seemed to come from newly elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who asked his neighbors to help combat terrorism. (Washington Times)
There has been a decline in Egypt's relative importance in the Arab world. The country's sheer size and cultural influence assure it a key voice in Arab counsels. However, Saudi Arabia represents wealth and radical-conservative Islam, Syria is the last fortress of traditionally radical Arab nationalism, and Iraq is the place where the great democratic and pluralist experiment is taking place. Cairo does have legitimate grievances vis-a-vis the Arab world. For example, the lack of aid it has received from rich, oil-producing states is remarkable. It is nothing short of astounding that it is American taxpayers, and not Saudi princes, who finance economic aid to Egypt.
Much of the rhetoric, by state-owned intellectuals in state-owned media, blames Egypt's problems on the U.S., Israel, and the West. After all, if these outsiders are at fault the government itself cannot be held to blame. While energetically, sometimes viciously, suppressing Islamist radicals, the government frequently wraps itself in the mantle of Islam. (Jerusalem Post)
It is the "War of the Words," or of terminology. It is a battle to define and describe Israel's conflict with its neighbors, and it is time that we started thinking ahead and fighting back. Glance at any major Western newspaper and it quickly becomes clear who is winning the linguistic tussle in the Middle East. The territories are "occupied," Jews living there are "settlers," their supporters are "extremists," while those trying to kill them are mere "activists" or "militants." (Jerusalem Post)
Israel at 57
Ben-Gurion, whose original state contained a mere 600,000 Jews, would have hardly believed that in his own children's lives, this number would grow almost tenfold. He certainly would have been stunned to learn that Zion is only a few years from becoming home to the world's largest Jewish community, a status it has not had since the First Temple's destruction nearly two-and-a-half millennia ago. Israel's per-capita income is higher than half the European Union's, and the Jewish state has one of the world's most solid currencies and most envied technological industries.
Demographically, while most other Western populations are shrinking, Israel's continues to grow, thanks to fertility rates that are higher, and marriage ages and divorce rates that are lower, than most other countries in the West. Most importantly, in a world where organic culture is often being overpowered by international commercializing forces, in Israel, Hebrew language and culture - which only a century ago hardly existed - are flourishing. (Jerusalem Post)
Nobody talks about my Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the perfect example of the Israeli reality, where all of us are doing badly, but most of us are doing well. Yes, we have the suicide bombings, the economic situation, and the armed guard at the supermarket's entrance, but that's not what our life is about. Often, when I meet friends who live abroad, I feel the warmth of their worries enveloping me. I must admit there is something pleasant about it, but (sorry to disappoint) the concern is unnecessary.
Have you ever tried to drive in Naples? Take a nightly stroll through downtown L.A.? Walk around Rio de Janeiro with a wallet tucked into your back pocket? Every big city in the world features its own hazards. Statistically, chances are I will die of a heart attack at the age of 78.7 during a chain-reaction car accident on Highway 5. For some reason, I'm embarrassed by the fact that I feel good here. Even when I look at it objectively, it still appears Israel is one of the nicest places on the globe. Just like all other Israelis, I say Israelis are intolerable, but always choose to spend my time with them nonetheless. (Ynetnews)
What should be one of the Western world's great success stories is frequently treated as a pariah state. A democracy with a rollicking political culture, a fertile arts scene, a sophisticated economy, a tremendous infrastructure, a cutting edge scientific community, a young, growing, multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual population, is frequently caricatured as a fragile, dysfunctional, garrison state teetering on the edge of collapse. By any objective standards, Israel is thriving. The high-tech sector has bounced back and the economy is beginning to soar again. Israel won its first Olympic gold medal last summer, and just months later won its first Nobel Prize in science for chemists who discovered cancer-busting proteins.
Israel won the ugly war Arafat and the Palestinians unleashed in 2000. Israel has proved democracies can defeat terror with a combination of effective fences, aggressive policing, active soldiering, vigilant citizens, and creative leadership. Given what Israel has endured, given the quality of life of so many of its citizens, given the many life-changing pharmaceutical, medicinal, and technological wonders emanating from there, given the symphonies and universities, the newspapers and bookstores, the full cafes and the booming businesses, the delicious mix of old traditions and new ideas, and the warm, effusive citizenry, it remains one of the 21st century's great hopes. The writer teaches history at McGill University. (Montreal Gazette/United Jerusalem)
Perspectives on Disengagement
Even the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza will not rid Israel of the Palestinians. "Separation" cannot resolve the problem.
This summer's withdrawal from Gaza is an historic moment in the search to define Israel's borders and identity. If it is followed up with a cessation of Palestinian violence from Gaza, by Israeli permission for Palestinians to move people and goods by land, sea and air, and by the delivery of international assistance, there's a chance for Gaza to be a bridge for a similar process on the West Bank that will perhaps over time lead to the possibility of two states living in peace and security.
If not, then Israel's independence will continue to be chained to two Palestinian populations, in the territories and within Israel, which it cannot absorb, moderate, or shed. And this will surely over time fundamentally undermine - if not destroy - its character, identity, and viability as a secure, Jewish democratic state for all its citizens. (Los Angeles Times)
A visitor would have to be strangely obtuse not to sense the deep attachment of Gaza's Jews to the land they live on. When those founders arrived, Jewish Gaza was all yearning and no agriculture: These settlements were mostly built on barren sand dunes where no one lived and nothing grew. Today it is a horticultural powerhouse, supplying two-thirds of the organic vegetables and cherry tomatoes Israel exports. More than half of Tnuvot's 127 year-round employees are Arab; they in turn account for about 2% of the 3,500 Arabs employed by Gaza's Jewish firms.
During a break in the shift, I ask some of workers what they think of the plan for Israeli withdrawal. If the Israelis go, they tell me, they'll lose their jobs. If the plant shuts down, they'll be out of work, and if the Palestinian Authority takes it over, they'll still be out of work - their jobs will go to workers with better connections to the PA's ruling thugs. Politicians and pundits are applauding Sharon's planned retreat, yet a simple lettuce-packer seems to grasp what they cannot: The lives of Gaza's Arabs will not be improved by expelling Gaza's Jews. (Boston Globe)
Israelis will soon be disengaging from the Gaza Strip, but what will happen to the settlements they leave behind is still undecided. Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute hopes that the buildings of evacuated settlements could be spared and turned to some constructive and/or symbolic use to enhance the fledgling peace between Palestinians and Israelis. For example, the greenhouses in Gaza currently take up about 1,000 acres. If, instead of being destroyed, they were left to be used by the Palestinians, they could provide work and support for many people.
If a third party were to buy the Gaza greenhouses, not only would Palestinians be able to work in the greenhouses to support themselves, but the former owners would receive compensation, as well. Another option would be to sell the properties to those who can afford them, with the understanding that they would be used for tourism development, and then to use the income generated from these sales to build low-income housing in another part of Gaza. The writer, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist, is a professor at the American University in Cairo. (Ha'aretz)
In less than a year, Mithal al-Alusi fell from high-flying Iraqi politico to hounded reformer, losing his job and his party membership, and by his count surviving nine assassination attempts, including one that killed his only two children. His offense: visiting Israel, and then agitating for peace with the Jewish state. Alusi's story contains an explicit message: The young Iraqi political sphere will not tolerate a pro-Israel leader. (Boston Globe)
See also Iraqi Politician's Support for Israel Cost Him Dearly - Heather Robinson
A Sunni Moslem who founded the Democratic Party of the Iraqi Nation, or DPIN, Alusi came to Washington last week to receive the American Jewish Committee's Moral Courage award. (JTA/Cleveland Jewish News)
Kamal Nawash would like to see tens of thousands of Muslim Americans join his March Against Terrorism on Saturday in Washington, but he likely won't. Nawash, 34, is the outspoken president of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. A Palestinian who came to the U.S. with his parents and six siblings when he was 9, Nawash issues news releases, applauds convictions of Muslims found guilty of terrorist ties, and hammers out online diatribes against fundamentalists for turning his religion "into a killing machine." Muslim American leaders hesitate to come down hard on terrorism, he says, not because they support the violence, but because they share with terrorists the dream of a theocratic Islamic state. (Washington Post)
Just before he left to join the Coast Guard in 1942, Cousin Willy gathered us Jewish kids together to instruct us on how to deal with anti-Semitism. "A guy calls you a dirty Jew, never argue. Drop him on his keester, place your foot on his throat, and say, 'Explain.'" Willy never did college, so he couldn't spell dialogue, but the street taught him well that talk was dead, reason had nothing to do with Jew-baiting.
What brings this fine old lesson to the front is the decision by Britain's leading higher education union to boycott two Israeli universities because of what it called the Jewish state's "apartheid" treatment of Palestinians. The South African whites imposed apartheid on the blacks, who were entirely innocent victims. The Arabs went to war five times against Israel, always with the stated intent to destroy it, and, having failed they refused to recognize the Jewish state, opting for terrorism instead of peace.
Boycott the Brit universities. Don't fool around with discussions about academic freedom, because that ain't the issue. The guys and dolls who pulled this sick deal off want only to turn Israel into Palestine. It won't happen. But to make sure it doesn't, let's remember this: The only answer to a slap in the face is a kick in the teeth. (New York Daily News)
Father Romuald-Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel, a professor at Lublin Catholic University in Poland, joined last week with thousands of Montrealers in a west-end synagogue to commemorate the Holocaust. At one point in the ceremony, a request came from the stage: Would all the Holocaust survivors in the audience please stand up? The priest rose, and started to cry. "I thought of all the people who were exterminated. Of my mother, my father, my brother, and all my ancestors. I am alone," he said.
Born Jewish, Father Weksler-Waszkinel survived the war hidden in a Catholic home. It wasn't until he was 35 and had already been a priest for 12 years that he learned of his true heritage. Now Father Weksler-Waszkinel struggles to reconcile his two faiths. "When I'm with Jews, I feel I'm with my family. It's irrational. I live in Poland, where I'm a bit like an orphan." Lublin, whose population was one-third Jewish during the war, doesn't have a single Jewish family left, he says. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
The resurgence of European anti-Semitism after the Holocaust suggests that it has deep roots in society. New European anti-Semitism often originates from a young age, which indicates that it is an anti-Semitism of the future rather than of the past. Through its discriminatory declarations and votes in international bodies, the European Union acts as an arsonist, fanning the flames of anti-Semitism in its anti-Israel disguise. Simultaneously, it serves as fireman, trying to quench the flames of classic religious and ethnic anti-Semitism. France is paradigmatic of this approach. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Minimize Palestinians' Sense of Victory - Interview with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - David Horovitz and Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
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